Andrew Z Drops New Single
While it’s true that there are a lot of high concepts in pop music right now, there aren’t nearly as many artists hitting the mark with their ambitiousness as you might imagine there should be. The mainstream fosters banality when it allows for a style to become overpowering for a scene and, more or less, an aesthetic itself, but the diversity of an underground ruled by the likes of Andrew Z has something more intriguing to offer the discerning listener this late summer season.
Although there’s been a lot of talk about singer/songwriters and the generic hype many solo players have been racking up against the backdrop of surreal and Americana revivals across rock, folk, country, and even hip-hop, few that I’ve personally encountered have had what Andrew Z does in his new single “Growing Pains,” which is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs of September on the strength of its casual harmonies and relatable lyrical angst. Where others want to wallow in pain or defy its very existence with superhuman-like resilience, this is a singer/songwriter who comes across as quite unguarded and vulnerable in “Growing Pains,” making him just a bit more human than a vast number of his contemporaries ever sound.
The stripped-down instrumental framework of this single lends a bit more of the spotlight to an already larger-than-life narrative, but I wouldn’t say that Andrew Z is using sonic depth as his lone means of emphasizing a mood or even the story he wants to tell here. His lyricism is quite fetching and telling of his honesty when he steps into the recording booth, as is his refusal to include a lot of the typical melodic fluff that accompanies an otherwise straightforward pop performance in 2022.
He’s confined within his own head from a poetic standpoint, but he never sounds so wrapped up in himself that we can’t understand where he’s coming from; if anything, his ironic rejection of the outside world makes him feel just that much more exposed to the audience he’s seemingly singing for. The bones of the rhythm here don’t need a lot of percussive presence, and I like that we’re not overwhelmed with instrumental fabric that inevitably would have got in the way of really appreciating the unpolished, blue-collar feel of the string play and the vocal track in this mix.
Singer/songwriters are getting more than their fair share of attention right now, but with an artist like Andrew Z, it seems wholly justifiable that critics would be abuzz with his talents. The music video for “Growing Pains” sounds, looks, and feels like a gateway to the soul of an artist, and that’s just in acknowledging the rich presence this player has when he comes into frame. His play speaks for itself, and being that ego is never a factor in any part of this performance, I would have to assume that we’ve only seen but a sample of what he can really do when the focus is left 100% on the craft. Single & EP were officially released on September 23rd.
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